Behind the scenes of a giant battle between aerospace giants Boeing (US) and Bombardier (Canada) the British prime minister is trying to convince US President Donald Trump to wade in.
And she wants Trump to convince his side to back down.
After their hand-in-hand stroll around the White House the pair appears to have cemented the ‘special relationship’ – and May is relying on it.
US giant Boeing has accused Bombardier, of getting an unfair amount of support from the state – which includes a massive £113 million (US$150 million) loan from the British government for its new C-series plane.
May has been warned if Bombardier is ruled against in the US – and the country refuses to order the planes – its operation in Ireland could be killed off risking all 4,500 jobs at the company’s airplane-wing production factory in Belfast.
According to the Times, May raised the issue with Trump on Tuesday in a telephone call between London and Washington.
The PM needs Boeing to back off because of pressure from leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Arlene Foster.
After a disastrous election campaign, May was forced to offer Foster’s Northern Irish party £1 billion in funding when she lost her majority in the June general election – which she called to increase Tory power in Parliament.
May has the backing of the DUP’s 10 MPs for her majority of 13 – as long as she keeps her end of the bargain.
Britain has already begged Boeing to drop the case after Business Secretary Greg Clark met with Boeing’s chairman and chief executive in Chicago.
However, with the president’s “America first” rhetoric, May could be out of luck.
Some commentators have argued Boeing has taken the action on the basis of his inward looking vision for the States.
The International Trade Commission will rule on the case, brought by Boeing, on September 25.
Boeing claims Bombardier is “dumping” its stock on the aviation market after it sold Delta Airlines 75 of its new C-Series planes for $19.6 million apiece, way below production cost.
If the US declines to make orders for the aircraft, analysts predict the C-series program would be killed off entirely.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the action “unfair and aggressive” and has threatened defense contracts with the US company.
May has been praised for her effort to influence the case, in Ireland.
MPs have warned the issue is “hugely important” for Belfast.
“Boeing had to take action as subsidized competition has hurt us now and will continue to hurt us for years to come, and we could not stand by given this clear case of illegal dumping,” a spokesman for Boeing told the Times.
“This is the normal course of action for addressing instances where a competitor is selling into the US market below cost and we will let the process play out.
“We believe that global trade only works if everyone plays by the same rules of the road, and that’s a principle that ultimately creates the greatest value for Canada, the UK, the US, and our aerospace industry.”